Singing Posture and Balance
As vocalists, we spend a lot of time in the practice room, finely tuning the various skills and techniques of singing. Studies show musicians tend to measure their worth through the success of performances, the arena where all the hard works pays off! As a coach, one specific technique that I find myself referring back to is singing posture and balance, an important part of singing often forgotten, particularly when performing. The way we singers hold ourselves greatly affects our voice and the sounds we produce. This article is full of helpful tips to improve your singing posture and vocal skills!
Singing Is a Whole-Body Experience
We use more than just our jaws to sing! Our arms, legs, neck and back all get involved in aspects of performance. Musical theatre and opera singers will often be moving or even dancing on stage whilst they are singing. Pop singing also requires dancing, just watch any video of Beyonce performing live! Rock and country performers will often play with a guitar for entire sets, which requires its own kind of strength and stamina. See how physically demanding singing can be? Despite this, the main focus always comes back to ensuring that the voice is not compromised and is still brimming with energy and emotion. Having correct, healthy singing posture throughout a performance of any sort is vitally important to ensure that no matter what, your voice is not suffering or affected negatively.
Start With Balance
There are many helpful ways to start improving your singing posture, and over time they will become second nature to you! The focus of a singer’s posture comes down to balance. We want to feel grounded and strong when we stand and deliver a song, but loose and flexible enough to be able to move around a performance space. Starting with a few exercises to get your body into a ‘neutral’ position will help you do this. Try just lying down on a flat, firm surface, like a carpeted floor. Focus on relieving neck and back tension in this position, and breathe low into your diaphragm. I’ve found that this process is the fastest way for me to start to feel balanced before singing. When you feel ready, slowly stand. Singing should now feel somewhat freer and a little more grounded in your body.
Another great tip to try is standing up against a firm wall during practice sessions. This is a favourite of mine, and all my clients will be familiar with it! For those of you that have the notorious ‘wobbly’ vibrato, this can help alleviate it, by forcing you to use air pressure as support rather than neck tension. For many singers, head position and unnecessary jaw tension is a big problem. Standing against a wall reminds you to realign the upper-body area, and helps to stop you from jutting your jaw forward or tilting your head back when you are climbing in your range. Fixing these postural pests can bring an even greater sense of alignment to your body whilst you sing!
Think Beyond ‘Just Singing’
Some body-balance issues originate from other activities that we often don’t notice in our day to day life! When people slouch and hunch over their phones, tablets or laptops their posture is negatively affected. Try to remain aware of how you sit while typing at a desk. Thinking tall in normal situations will make the ‘singing’ positions feel way more natural! Sometimes the shoes we sing in can throw off or change our balance. Practising and getting comfortable in the shoes you intend to wear for performing can remove these unexpected alignment problems.
Performers in any genre never stand completely frozen on stage – it would look a little odd if someone like Lady Gaga didn’t move AT ALL!! Gaga often plays piano for her ballads, and if you find yourself at a piano, remember to feel that tall stretch along and through your spine rather than slouching! Moving around the stage is normal and can help engage with an audience – but always check in with your alignment. Be careful that you’re not straying too far from correct alignment (especially around high notes). It’s fine to move, but always ensure that your body is prepared to support the main focus of the show – your vocals. Posture is also part of the way we communicate with other performers on stage with us; it forms part of our gestural communication. Moving and achieving mutual goals together for entries, phrases, changes of dynamics and other points of musical significance happens when gestural posture is in place. It allows us to develop a deeper sense of ‘ensemble’ and cohesion amongst your colleagues in performance.
I can think of many benefits from working on creating a good singing posture! Without any muscles causing tension, you will be able to connect to the energy in your diaphragm with ease. In turn this means your higher notes will feel closer, and you will hopefully discover some more vowel depth and tone! Furthermore, as your body adjusts in performance and practice, this may carry across to your everyday tasks, meaning you may stand, sit and walk with a taller and healthier alignment. These are just some of the more obvious benefits that can stem from developing a good postural technique; I’m sure you will discover plenty more!